North Carolina Police Continue to Lay Sodomy Charges
July 7, 2003
By Fidel Ortega, 365Gay.com Newscenter, Miami Bureau
Charlotte, North Carolina—Police in Charlotte, North
Carolina are continuing to press sodomy charges, despite a ruling from the
Supreme Court that sodomy laws are unconstitutional.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are using the sodomy laws to
arrest gay men in area parks and say the use of the law does not contravene
the High Court’s ruling.
A spokesperson for the department said police will no
longer arrest people they suspect are meeting in public and agreeing to have
anal or oral sex in a home or another private place.
But, public sex is an exception to the ruling police say.
Sodomy charges can also be laid in cases involving prostitution: Straight or
North Carolina is of 13 states with sodomy laws. The
Texas law was challenged by gay lawyers before the Supreme Court. (story) The
court ruling made similar laws in the other dozen states invalid.
Gay rights advocates and defense lawyers say they don’t
necessarily condone park cruising or sex in public places, but they argue that
police are acting unfairly when they arrest people on suspicion of soliciting
only certain types of sex in public.
“You can’t say, `If you talk about this kind of sex,
it’s illegal and if you talk about this kind of sex, it’s not.’ The
Supreme Court said sex acts for consenting adults are on an equal playing
field,’ “ said Ray Warren in an interview with The Observer, a local
paper. Warren is a Charlotte defense attorney who came out as a gay man while
serving as a Superior Court judge.
Charlotte criminal defense lawyer Chris Connelly told the
paper “the real tenor of this case is not does it happen in somebody’s
home or somewhere else outside the home. It’s about people having the right
to make a decision how to live their lives.”
But police officials say the Supreme Court decision
involved two men who were arrested while committing a sex act in a private
home. It didn’t address solicitation of a crime against nature in public,
they say, so they will continue to make arrests for those actions.
Some members of Charlotte’s community claim officers
entrap gay men by coming on to them in parks and other places and coercing
them to agree to commit sodomy so they can arrest them.
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